Faculty: Dr. Kelly Neil

Faculty: Dr. Kelly Neil

By Radhika Vaid, Staff Writer

SMC Professor Published in Teaching Journal

Dr. Kelly Neil
Dr. Kelly Neil

Publishing is a part of the life of a college professor.

Earlier this year, Dr. Kelly Neil, professor of English and British literature at SMC, published an article called, "A Life in 'Parcels': Shakespeare's Othello and the Digital Commonplace Book in the Literature Survey." The article was included in the April issue of Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, which is published by Duke University Press.

Dr. Neil, also the chair of the English and literature department, developed the essay out of the Shakespeare Association of America Conference in a workshop she led for other scholars and professors.

“As I developed and refined the essay, it went through many revisions and was rejected by journal editors several times before it was finally accepted for publication,” she said. “I feel it's important that students know this: failure is part of how you develop and grow, even for professors!”

The essay looks at how instructors can use students' emotions and personal responses to literature to engage them in a sophomore-level literature course. The essay reports students' experiences creating virtual commonplace books in ENGL 201: British Literature. A commonplace book was a popular genre in the 1500s-1800s where readers collected excerpts from literary texts, bible verses, recipes, etc., and arranged them in a book.

Dr. Neil had students maintain a commonplace book throughout the semester rather than a traditional final exam. In the commonplace book, students could “curate” excerpts from their course readings as well as texts or images from modern culture that connected to those excerpts. At the end of the semester, students thought about how their commonplace book reflected their selves and what matters to them, as well as how older literature connects to today's culture. Dr. Neil’s article, explains the science behind this approach and how it resulted in increased student success.

“This publication has helped me become more mindful of what it's like to be an undergraduate student experiencing new literary texts for the first time. And most importantly, it reminds me that I have a lot to learn from my students,” Dr. Neil said.

She said publication of the article took many members of the SMC community to make happen. According to Dr. Neil, her colleagues had to approve the study she used in her classroom to ensure that she was using her students' work ethically and appropriately in a publication, while her students had to do the work and allow her permission to publish their work. “So, without my students and colleagues, this publication really could not exist. For that I am thankful!”